Environment

Ecological Regions Of Canada

Canada is located in the northern part of North America, with its ten provinces and three territories extending from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west. The country is also bordered by Greenland, Alaska, and the Arctic Ocean. Canada is the world’s second largest country by the total area including its waters. However, by land area alone, the country ranks fourth in the world. The country consists of eight forest regions extending to the boreal forest on the Canadian Shield. With over 2,000,000 lakes, Canada has the largest portion of freshwater lakes in the world. The country is characterized by a north to south transition from lush temperate forests to Tundra biomes, dividing the country into several ecological regions.

Alaska-St. Elias Range Tundra

The Alaska-St. Elias Range Tundra consists of a long belt of rugged mountains moving from the Alaska Peninsula to surround the Alaska Range. The Canadian portion surrounds a portion of the Yukon Territory and British Columbia. The ecoregion has an elevation of between the sea level and 600 meters consisting mainly of rocky slopes and glacier. Alpine Tundra vegetation characterized by dwarf shrubs dominates areas that are not covered by a glacier. The region receives an average annual rainfall of between 400 millimeters and 2000 millimeters depending on elevation and a daily temperature range from -34o Celsius and 220 Celsius. Alaska-St. Elias Range Tundra is still intact with most predators within their natural range. Beers, mountain goats, caribou, beaver, and salmon are some of the animal species common in this ecoregion.

Alberta Mountain forests

The Alberta Mountain forests are within Alberta and extend to the Alberta-British Columbia provincial border. The temperatures in this ecoregion vary from -7.5o Celsius during winter to 12o Celsius during summer with annual precipitation ranging from 600 millimeters to 800 millimeters depending on the elevation. The region covers some of the peaks including Rocky Mountain and peaks around Columbia Icefield. The vegetation comprises of alpine and subalpine ecosystems including lodgepole pine, alpine fir, and Engelmann spruce while the wildlife includes bighorn sheep, elk, bear, dear, and mountain goat. Almost 80% of Alberta Mountain forests remain intact with road corridor in the Valley being responsible for the 20% of habitat lost.

Alberta-British Columbia Foothills Forests

The Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests cover the Rocky Mountain foothills in western Alberta and part of those in central British Columbia. The foothills tend to rise above the plains with an elevation ranging from 700 millimeters to 1500 millimeters. The ecoregion receives an annual precipitation of between 400 millimeters to 600 millimeters with temperatures ranging from -0.5o Celsius to 15o Celsius. The vegetation in this ecoregion is characterized by lodgepole pine, quaking aspen, and white spruce. The forests are also transitional with mixed vegetation between Cordilleran and boreal vegetation. Some of the common wildlife includes beaver, black bear, moose, muskrat, and wolf. The ecoregion is ranked “altered” with some portions ranked “heavily altered” because of the extensive activities including logging, grazing, seismic exploration, and agricultural expansion. Some of the protected areas in Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests include Goose Mountain Ecological Reserve and Whitecourt Mountain Natural Area.

Canadian Biome Systems

Many of the ecological regions of Canada fall within the Tundra biome. Other biomes forming the ecoregions in Canada include Temperate Coniferous Forests, Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands, Boreal Forests and Taiga, and Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests.

Ecological Regions of Canada (as per World Wide Fund for Nature) Biome
Alaska-St. Elias Range tundra Tundra
Alberta Mountain forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Alberta-British Columbia foothills forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Arctic coastal tundra Tundra
Arctic foothills tundra Tundra
Baffin coastal tundra Tundra
British Columbia mainland coastal forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Brooks-British Range tundra Tundra
Canadian aspen forests and parklands Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands
Cascade Mountains leeward forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Central British Columbia mountain forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Central Canadian Shield forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
Central Pacific coastal forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Davis Highlands tundra Tundra
Eastern Canadian forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
Eastern Canadian Shield taiga Boreal Forests and Taiga
Eastern Cascades forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Eastern forest-boreal transition Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Eastern Great Lakes lowland forests Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Fraser Plateau and Basin complex Temperate Coniferous Forests
Gulf of St. Lawrence lowland forests Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
High Arctic tundra Tundra
Interior Alaska-Yukon lowland taiga Boreal Forests and Taiga
Interior Yukon-Alaska alpine tundra Tundra
Lac Saint-Jean and Saguenay valley forests Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Low Arctic tundra Tundra
Mid-Continental Canadian forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
Middle Arctic tundra Tundra
Midwestern Canadian Shield forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
Muskwa-Slave Lake forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
New England-Acadian forests Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Newfoundland Highland forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
North Central Rockies forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Northern Canadian Shield taiga Boreal Forests and Taiga
Northern Cordillera forests Boreal Forests and Taiga
Northern mixed grasslands Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands
Northern Pacific coastal forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Northern short grasslands Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands
Northern tall grasslands Temperate Grasslands, Savannas, and Shrublands
Northern transitional alpine forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Northwest Territories taiga Boreal Forests and Taiga
Ogilvie-MacKenzie alpine tundra Tundra
Okanogan dry forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Pacific Coastal Mountain icefields and tundra Tundra
Puget lowland forests Temperate Coniferous Forests
Queen Charlotte Islands Temperate Coniferous Forests
South Avalon-Burin oceanic barrens Boreal Forests and Taiga
Southern Hudson Bay taiga Boreal Forests and Taiga
Ta'an Forest Temperate Coniferous Forests
Torngat Mountain tundra Tundra
Western Great Lakes forests Temperate Broadleaf and Mixed Forests
Yukon Interior dry forests Boreal Forests and Taiga

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